Posts tagged ‘America’



If [America] forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution.

Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock (1948)



We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and this place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.

John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address (1961)


wag wag wag

America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

Arnold J. Toynbee, News Summaries (1954)



America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.

John Updike, “How to Love America and Leave it at the Same Time,” in Problems and Other Stories (1979)


impudent and atrocious

A more impudent, false, and atrocious proclamation was never fabricated by the hands of man.    

Ambrose Serle, secretary to the British army, his diary, referring to the Declaration of Independence.
Quoted in David McCullough’s 1776 (1776)

Note: I myself, an ardent American, do not agree with this quote. But there’s something about it that I still kinda love.


more than dirt

He bent down, scratched the black dirt into his fingers. He was beginning to warm to it; the words were beginning to flow. No one in front of him was moving. He said, “This is free ground. All the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by what your father was. Here you can be something. Here’s a place to build a home. It isn’t the land–there’s always more land. It’s the idea that we all have value, you and me, we’re worth something more than the dirt. I never saw dirt I’d die for, but I’m not asking you to come join us and fight for dirt. What we’re all fighting for, in the end, is each other.”

Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels (1974)

Note: Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.



The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)



The youth of America is their oldest tradition.

Oscar Wilde, “A Woman of No Importance” (1893)



They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this nation.

Henry Ward Beecher, “The Honored Dead” (1863)


power and dream

Gatsby, divided between power and dream, comes inevitably to stand for America itself.

Lionel Trilling, “F. Scott Fitzgerald” in The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (1951)



I cannot desert a man…who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that a large part of it wants spirit to defend itself.

Colonel William Tudor, referring to George Washington in letter to his wife (1776)



We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California.

William McKinley, remark to personal secretary George Cortelyou (1898)

Note: Today is the 170th anniversary of President William McKinley’s birthday. I’d guess that he is slightly better-known than Millard Fillmore, if not only because of Glee. And I have no idea if this comment was intended to be as funny as I find it. Especially given that I live in California these days 🙂 #occasionalpersonalcomment



I support every president. Period.

Jack Nicholson, interview with AP Entertainment Press (2007)



Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities…While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others, we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness.

Theodore Roosevelt, first inaugural address (1901)

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